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Political Science Degree: Curriculum, Prices, and Career Prospects

Jacky M.
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Last updated:
Mar 29, 2024
Nov 22, 2021
Political Science Degree: Curriculum, Prices, and Career Prospects
political science degree

What Is a Political Science?

What Courses a Political Science Program Includes?

Political Science Career Opportunities

Perspectives of Pursuing a Political Science Degree

Best Schools for a Political Science Major

In a world where global issues like climate change, economic inequality, and geopolitical tensions dominate headlines, the question of whether it's worth getting a political science degree in 2024 is a pressing one.

With technology rapidly changing how we interact and public movements shaping our societies, understanding politics has never been more crucial. A political science degree isn't just about learning how governments work; it's about developing critical thinking skills that are essential for being an informed citizen and making a difference in today's complex world.

This article explores whether becoming a political science major is still a smart choice amidst the challenges and opportunities posed by the turbulent times we live in nowadays.

What Is a Political Science?

Political science is the academic field that examines the theory and practice of politics, governance, and power dynamics within societies. The degree encompasses studying civic systems, institutions, behavior, ideologies, and policies, aiming to understand how individuals and groups influence decision-making processes and shape the distribution of resources and authority.

A political science major analyzes a wide range of topics, from elections and public policy to international relations and comparative politics, employing methodologies such as qualitative and quantitative research to uncover insights into the functioning and evolution of government systems at local, national, and global levels. Ultimately, political science seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the complexities of human interaction within politics and contribute to informed debates and effective governance. In college, the degree curriculum is usually filled with extensive paper writing, so getting a reliable homework assistant is always a smart choice.

What Courses a Political Science Program Includes?

A typical program includes courses covering politics, government, international relations, public policy, and related fields required for applying to political science degree jobs. Here's a broad overview of the types of courses you might find in a political science program:

  • Introduction to Political Science

This course provides an overview of the discipline, including its subfields, key concepts, theories, and methodologies.

  • American Government and Politics

This course examines the structure and functioning of the U.S. political system, including the presidency, Congress, the judiciary, government parties, elections, and public policy.

  • Comparative Politics

This course compares political systems and processes across different countries and regions, exploring democratization, authoritarianism, public culture, institutions, and development.

  • International Relations

This course focuses on the interactions between states, including diplomacy, conflict and cooperation, international organizations, globalization, and security studies.

  • Political Theory

This course delves into the ideas and philosophies that underpin legislative systems, exploring classical and contemporary politics, ideologies, and debates about justice, power, and authority.

  • Public Policy Analysis

This degree course examines the policymaking process, including agenda-setting, formulation, implementation, and evaluation, as well as methods for analyzing policy problems and evaluating policy outcomes.

  • Research Methods in Political Science

This course covers the methods and techniques used in degree research, including qualitative and quantitative approaches, survey research, experiments, case studies, and data analysis.

  • Political Economy

This degree course explores the intersection of politics and economics, analyzing how economic factors influence civic outcomes and vice versa, including topics such as globalization, inequality, and economic development.

  • Electoral Politics and Voting Behavior

This course examines the behavior of voters and the dynamics of elections, including factors that influence voter decision-making, campaign strategies, and the role of government parties and interest groups.

  • Policy Areas

Depending on the program, degree seekers may have the opportunity to take courses focusing on specific policy areas such as environmental policy, healthcare policy, immigration policy, or social welfare policy.

  • Capstone or Senior Seminar

Many programs culminate in a capstone course or seminar where degree holders integrate their knowledge and skills, often through a research project or seminar discussion on a specific topic.

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Political Science Career Opportunities

A political science major has multiple career opportunities across various sectors. Here are some common career paths along with average salaries, although salaries can vary widely based on factors such as location, experience, and employer:

Political Science Career Opportunities

Government and Public Administration

Careers in government and public administration involve working within governmental bodies at various levels (local, state, federal) or in public-sector organizations. Professionals in this field are responsible for implementing and overseeing public policies, managing government programs and services, and ensuring efficient governance. Degree holders may work as policy analysts, public administrators, legislative aides, or civil servants.

  • Policy analysts research and analyze government policies and proposals, providing recommendations to policymakers. Average salary: $60,000 - $80,000 per year.
  • Legislative assistants work for elected officials, helping them develop and implement legislative agendas. Average salary: $40,000 - $60,000 per year.
  • Public administrators manage local, state, or federal government programs and operations. Average salary: $50,000 - $70,000 per year.

Nonprofit Organizations and Advocacy Groups

Nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups operate to address social, environmental, or legislative issues. Professionals in this sector work towards advancing specific causes or interests, often through charitable activities, community services, or policy advocacy. With a degree, careers in this field include program coordinators, development officers, advocacy specialists, and community organizers.

  • Advocacy coordinators organize and implement advocacy campaigns for nonprofit organizations, lobbying for specific policy changes. Average salary: $45,000 - $60,000 per year.
  • Program coordinators oversee the implementation of programs and initiatives within nonprofit organizations, ensuring they align with the organization's mission and goals. Average salary: $40,000 - $55,000 per year.
  • Development officers are responsible for fundraising and donor relations within nonprofit organizations. Average salary: $50,000 - $70,000 per year.

International Organizations and NGOs

International and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operate globally to address humanitarian, developmental, or diplomatic challenges. With a political science degree, you can work on international issues such as peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, human rights, and global health. Careers in this field include roles such as international relations specialists, humanitarian aid workers, diplomats, and program managers.

  • International relations specialists work for international organizations or NGOs, researching, analyzing global trends, and developing policies on international issues. Average salary: $60,000 - $80,000 per year.
  • Humanitarian aid workers assist communities affected by natural disasters, conflicts, or other emergencies worldwide. Average salary: $40,000 - $60,000 per year.
  • Diplomats represent their home country's interests abroad, negotiating agreements, promoting diplomacy, and providing consular services. Average salary: Highly variable, depending on the diplomatic rank and country of assignment.

Research and Academia

Research and academia involve pursuing knowledge and understanding through scholarly inquiry and academic study. Professionals in this field conduct research, publish academic papers, and teach courses at colleges and universities. Careers in research and academia include roles such as researchers, professors, lecturers, and academic administrators.

  • Research analysts work for think tanks, research institutes, or consulting firms, researching civil, social, and economic issues. Average salary: $50,000 - $70,000 per year.
  • Academic researchers and professors teach and conduct research at colleges and universities, contributing to advancing knowledge in political science and related fields. Average salary: Assistant professors: $60,000 - $80,000 per year; Associate professors: $70,000 - $100,000 per year; Full professors: $90,000 - $150,000 per year.

Law and Legal Services

Careers in law and legal services provide legal counsel, representation, and advocacy to individuals, businesses, or organizations. Professionals in this field may work as attorneys, paralegals, legal advisors, or legal consultants. They handle legal matters such as litigation, contract negotiation, regulatory compliance, and dispute resolution.

  • Paralegals assist lawyers by conducting legal research, drafting documents, and preparing cases for trial. Average salary: $40,000 - $60,000 per year.
  • Policy advocates or lobbyists work to influence legislation and public policy on behalf of clients, such as corporations, trade associations, or interest groups. Average salary: $50,000 - $80,000 per year.

To successfully obtain a degree, many degree seekers find a term paper writer who helps them along the course. It saves time and improves grades, leading to a stress-free graduation.

Perspectives of Pursuing a Political Science Degree

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for social science research assistants, a role often filled by science degree holders, is projected to grow by 9% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. Moreover, administrative science degree holders can find fulfilling government and public administration careers. The BLS reports that the median annual wage for political scientists was $125,350 in May 2020, significantly higher than the median annual wage for all occupations.

Secondly, a political science degree opens doors to impactful roles in nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups. Graduates with a strong understanding of administrative systems and policies can contribute to social change and community development. According to PayScale, the average salary for advocacy coordinators, a common role for political science degree holders in nonprofit organizations, is around $50,000 annually. Additionally, the BLS projects a 14% increase in the employment of social and community service managers, which includes roles in nonprofit organizations, from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Lastly, degree holders can pursue rewarding careers in international organizations and NGOs. With globalization and interconnectedness shaping our world, there is a growing demand for professionals to understand international relations and diplomacy. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for management analysts, a role that may include consulting for international organizations, was $87,660 in May 2020. Additionally, the BLS projects a 10% increase in the employment of political scientists from 2020 to 2030, driven by the need for expertise in global issues such as climate change, human rights, and security.

reasons to pursuing a political science degree

Best Schools for a Political Science Major

Here's a list of 10 prestigious institutions known for their strong political science programs based on rankings, reputation, and academic excellence:

  • Harvard University

Harvard's Government Department is renowned for its faculty expertise and comprehensive curriculum covering various aspects of government science, from theory to international relations.

  • Princeton University

Princeton's Department of Politics offers rigorous academic training in political theory, comparative politics, and American politics, with opportunities for research and engagement.

  • Stanford University

Stanford's Political Science Department provides diverse courses and research opportunities, emphasizing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding civil phenomena.

  • University of Chicago

The University of Chicago's Political Science Department is known for its analytical approach to administrative inquiry and its commitment to training degree holders in rigorous research methods.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT's Department of Political Science combines cutting-edge research with a focus on real-world problem-solving, particularly in technology and governance.

  • Yale University

Yale's Political Science Department offers interdisciplinary perspectives on political issues, with strengths in political economy, international relations, and comparative politics.

  • University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley's Political Science Department is highly regarded for its faculty expertise and innovative research, particularly in political psychology and public policy.

  • Columbia University

Columbia's Department of Political Science provides a comprehensive education in political theory, comparative politics, and international relations, with opportunities for experiential learning and internships in New York City.

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan's Department of Political Science offers many courses and research opportunities, with strengths in public opinion, electoral politics, and quantitative methods.

  • London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

LSE's Department of Government is one of the world's leading centers for political science research and teaching, known for its international perspective and diverse student body.

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